Things are not going well for the Los Angeles Rams. While it is too early to declare the Rams season over, through six games, the situation looks to be getting worse before it gets better. The only question the Rams faced coming into the season was the status of star running back, Todd Gurley. However, if the last few weeks have shown anything, it’s that Gurley is the least of their problems.
Todd Gurley and His Knee Are the Least of the Problems Plaguing the Los Angeles Rams
The Rams faced off against their toughest opponents to date, the San Francisco 49ers, in a critical, early-season divisional matchup. While the 49ers may be undefeated, many had the Rams winning a bounce-back game at home, but it was not to be. Opening drive aside, Los Angeles struggled, again, to find rhythm on the offense. In addition to an offense that looks nothing like last year, the Rams find themselves losing even more ground in a division that is proving to be the toughest in the NFL.
It All Starts Up-Front
Let’s start with the obvious. The front five that asserted their will and pummeled opponents into submission, is no more. While it would be easy to point the finger at the departing John Sullivan, Rodger Saffold, and their respective replacements, that hasn’t been the case. Joseph Noteboom had been well on his way to becoming a standout on the struggling front, with Brian Allen making improvements on his deficiencies weekly. The main source of pressure on quarterback Jared Goff comes from the outside.
Veteran tackles, Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein have been surprisingly poor this season. In addition to poor play and replacing veteran leaders, the Rams offensive front has been bitten by the injury bug. Guard Austin Blythe had to miss a couple of games earlier this year and this past weekend. Noteboom suffered a season-ending injury himself. As if the absolute decimation of a once league-best o-line wasn’t enough, the Sean McVay led Rams seem to avoid the one thing they continue to do well enough to get wins. Instead, they opt to continue piling on the back of Jared Goff, forcing him to become something he really never was, an elite, MVP caliber quarterback.
Doing What Works
Most people will look at how awful the line has been, and assume that the biggest reason for not seeing Gurley as much, is the inability to run behind such a poor front. However, a deeper look will tell you this is far from the case. The Rams are 14th in average yards per carry, but less than a yard per carry from the top spot. Not bad, considering they are ranked 21st in attempts, just 40 carries more than the Miami Dolphins at this point in the season. Considering you have one of the best backs in the league, that is a startling stat.
Gurley being on what appears to be a “carry count” is no longer a valid excuse for lack of a ground game. Both Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson have shown they have the potential and ability to be an every-down back. Brown has averaged over three yards when asked to carry the ball, while Henderson had 39 yards with his only six carries of the year. Both were able to find success when given the opportunity, against a 49er defense that ranks sixth against the rush.
While Goff may have gotten the big bag of cash, the bread and butter of this offense is still the ground attack. Against San Francisco, Brown finished with just 11 carries, and six of those were during the opening touchdown drive. Much like the Seahawks of just a few years ago, this Rams coaching staff seem to want to make sure Goff is the reason they are winning games. However, if they don’t start trusting the run game, regardless of who’s carrying the ball, Goff will be the reason they lose, more than they win going forward.
Can It Be Fixed?
Speaking to reporters after the recent loss, Sean McVay admitted, “there’s always some things that we can look at to be better at. We’ve all got to do that, I’m certainly a part of that.” With just two weeks until the NFL trade deadline, the Rams should be one of the more active teams with plenty of areas to improve should they want to return to Super Bowl contention. The chances of snagging someone like Trent Williams is slim, but along the lines of what LA needs.
Only time will tell if the Rams will be able to address their needs, but with the division slipping rapidly from their fingers, it’s time they thought about making moves and salvaging the season.